Richmond the “Happiest City”? Pony Pasture helps

Recently little old Richmond, Va ( #RVA ) was named the “Happiest Metropolitan Area“. There are a multitude of reasons why Richmonders’ are content with our evolving little city. I wanted to share just one photo-story about a piece of us that makes Richmond happy, namely the James River Park System.

The James River meanders right through the middle of Richmond splitting the metro into “North of the River” and “South of the River”. This river ultimately created what is now Richmond, a thousand years before the European settlers arrived. Pre-Richmond was a prosperous trading village because the wide and deep rivers extending inland from the Chesapeake Bay came to an abrupt change when they hit the city limits. Here, their be rocks! Richmond has a nice patch of rapids that define much of the city based section of the James.

Before Christopher Newport of the Jamestown expedition made his way  up the river and planted a cross at the banks of the James in what is now Richmond, many important Indians called this Algonquian region home, including Chef Powahatan  and Matoaka (you may know her as Pocahantas… Richmond is a slowly brewed stew of 1000’s of years of history and you can feel the “gravity” of that when you come to town.

A little more of the magic is that today’s James River Park System (JRPS) is made up of what were privately held lands in the 1960’s. Two local “River Rats” at the time dedicated a portion of their lives to buying up the property and donating it to the city to be made into the park that it is today (the most visited park in the metro). Richmonders often have a vision that extends beyond wealth/ownership, and on to long-term societal good. Its present in many places throughout the city.

So today I visited “Pony Pasture”, a key anchor in the JRPS chain. I took my bike and my camera. Please enjoy a quick review of Pony Pasture on a sunny spring day.


The river is high today, we recently have had lots of rain


Pony Pasture is wetlands, so its often on the soggy side through spring and early summer

IMG_0838If you ride in the spring, plan to have a soggy backside, you’ll get a little muddy


I work to avoid the mud and water for conservation reasons. Its important to not chop this place up, today everything is sloppy so I rode slow and walked it a couple times.


Of course there were dry spots too


There are many bridges and plank roads through out the park


I Weird to me was this area seemed a little dry compared to normal.

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Here’s a little video work to put you in the moment >

The James was high and muddy. This area is usually more pretty…

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We also have had a tough winter and slow start to spring, but there were some flowers popping out on this 80 degree day.

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If you are coming to Richmond to ride technical trails, this is not your stop. This is 101 level cruiser with a few tricks.  Instead of Pony Pasture, find your way to North Bank, Buttermilk, Poor Farm, Pocahontas, Dogwood Dell , or drive over to Williamsburg and do Freedom Park. There are many many trails to enjoy in the area.


Ok I got a little muddy, going to have to do some clean up back home


Back at the parking lot, some kayakers are setting up to take a trip down the rapids


The way I drive I should retain a little anonymity, but my plate RVABIK really fits the article. Its also a James River Park System donation plate…


The surrounding areas quite lovely estates and homes along a scenic byway where  bikes and walkers continue their journey along the river.


There are no Harley’s here, no loud music, or bling. That’s not Richmond. What’s nice is the quiet simplicity. Everyone takes turns, considers the other, and find a bit of meditative exercise to start our day.

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Richmonders measure luxury in simple freedoms, in consideration of others, and in living the moment surrounded by the history of ages. Maybe this is why we’re happy.


2 thoughts on “Richmond the “Happiest City”? Pony Pasture helps

  1. Seriously considering taking the family on a long drive to Virginia during the last week of July if I can get away from work for a week. If I can make it happen, might just head down your way for a visit.

    Raman Yousefi Advisory Systems Engineer SAP Solutions Practice | EMC2 +1.312.317.9373 (mobile)

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